CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The No. 5 Virginia men’s tennis team (23-4) advanced to the Round of 16 in the 2019 NCAA Men’s Tennis Championship after picking up a 4-1 victory over No. 17 South Carolina (18-10) on Saturday at the Snyder Tennis Center.
The Cavaliers won the doubles point against the Gamecocks and picked up singles victories on courts two, four and six. For the second-straight day, sophomore Gianni Ross (Chicago, Ill.) clinched the victory for the Cavaliers on court four.
The Cavaliers will host a Super Regional match next weekend, taking on No. 12 Stanford on Saturday, May 11 at 1 p.m. at the Snyder Tennis Center.
“It feels good to be headed to the Round of 16 and is nice to do this at home and to get another match at home now,” said head coach Andres Pedroso. “South Carolina is a great team. You don’t make the semis of the SEC Tournament unless you can compete with the best, and they proved that today. I knew it was going to be a war. There were a lot of close matches today, but that is college tennis, especially with the deuce-point format. Things can go either way. Everyone is a point away. That is how these matches are. Every single match for the rest of the tournament is going to be like this. We have to know that walking on the court. No surprises. Everyone can play. Everyone is good. Every match is going to be a war.”
Senior Henrik Wiersholm (Kirkland, Wash.) and freshman Brandon Nakashima (San Diego, Calif.) started things off with a 6-2 victory on the top doubles court. Ross and freshman William Woodall (Washington, D.C.) clinched the point with a 6-3 win on court three.
In singles, senior Aswin Lizen (Douglas, Isle of Man) gave UVA a 2-0 lead with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Patrick Cacciatore on court six. South Carolina got on the scoreboard with a straight-set victory on court five to make it 2-1.
On court two, No. 82 Brandon Nakashima picked up a 6-3 victory in the first set over No. 83 Daniel Rodrigues. The second set was knotted, 4-4, until Nakashima broke Rodrigues to go up 5-4. Nakashima was serving for the win and up 40-30 when Rodrigues staved off the first of two match points. Nakashima won the ensuing deuce point to take the game, set and match, giving UVA a 3-1 advantage.
“Brandon won some clutch deuce points and some long points today,” Pedroso said. “Rodrigues played really well, but Brandon just came up with a little better shots, a little more depth. Brandon served huge at important moments, too, but that’s why he in No. 4 in the world in juniors and is one of the best recruits to ever come to college. This is not surprising from him. He’s a killer.”
On court four, Ross won his first set, 6-4, over Yancy Dennis. In the second set, Ross trailed 4-2 but battled back to tie it 4-4. Dennis was serving a deuce point at 4-4 that Ross won to take the 5-4 lead. Ross held serve to win his second set 6-4 and clinch the victory for the Cavaliers.
“In the second set, I trusted that there were some shots I could hit that would win me points here and there and I needed to find them as often as possible,” said Ross. “He missed a couple of crucial points on the four-all deuce point. He had a forehand in the middle of the court and he just missed it. It could have gone either way. Honestly, he is a very good player, but I just stayed with it. I was gritty and I just trusted my guns, especially when I was down.”
Court one featured a top-five showdown. Junior Carl Soderlund (Stockholm, Sweden) who is currently ranked No. 3 in the nation in singles, won his first set, 6-3, over Paul Jubb. Jubb, who is currently ranked No. 5, won the second set, 6-2, to force a third set, which was abandoned after the clinch with Söderlund leading 2-1.
The Cavaliers are now 30-0 in NCAA Tournament matches played in Charlottesville.
The eight super regional winners will then advance to the finals site, the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla., with the quarterfinals through championship matches being contested May 16-19.
This will be Virginia’s 15th trip to the Round of 16. The team has reached the quarterfinals in 13 of the last 14 seasons. Virginia has won four of the last six NCAA titles, including three-consecutive from 2015-17.